Warlords (game series): Wikis


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Warlords is a computer game series created by Steve Fawkner, in which role-playing elements are combined with strategy in a fantasy setting. The series has been split into two different games lines, the traditional turn-based strategy Warlords series (currently in its fourth edition), and a newer real-time based strategy Warlords Battlecry series (currently in its third edition).

The games are set in the fantasy world of Etheria, and tend to be based around the traditional premise of good versus evil, with neutrality in between. Heroes on the side of good are the Sirian Knights, the mercantile Empires of Men, the elves and the dwarves. On the side of evil are the demonic horsemen: the Lord of Plague, the Lord of Famine, the Lord of War, and the ever present Lord Bane, Lord of Death.

The politics of the world, however, are more complicated than they first appear, particularly in the third installment of the series. For example, the Minotaurs, who were created as servants for Sartek, the Lord of War, are a neutral race rather than an evil one. Also, the third game opens with the human Empire pillaging and exploiting the newly-discovered lands of the peaceful Srrathi snakemen, in an obvious nod to the historical European conquest of the Americas. Most importantly from a player's point of view, a Hero's race is not as important in determining their moral alignment as their choice of class. For example, while the Undead are evil as a rule, an Undead Paladin would be treated as good (though such a thing is only possible in the third game, wherein all previous restrictions on race and class combinations have been removed).

The most recent Warlords Battlecry game is based upon the release of the fifth horseman from the demonic dimensions. Other races also populate Etheria, including Dark Elves, Dark Dwarves, Barbarians, Orcs, Gnolls, and Srrathi, with some races being dropped and added with different games.



The first Warlords was created in 1989 by Steven Fawkner, and published by SSG. It featured 8 different clans battling for the control of a mythical land called Illuria: Sirians (EGA and VGA: white), Storm Giants (EGA and VGA: yellow), Grey Dwarves (EGA: light blue, VGA: orange), Orcs of Kor (EGA and VGA: red), Elvallie (EGA and VGA: green), Horse Lords (EGA: dark blue, VGA: light blue), Selentines (EGA: purple, VGA: dark blue) and Lord Bane (EGA and VGA: black), which could either be played partly by the computer or by eight different people taking turns in what is known as hot seat play. Gameplay consisted of moving units, checking and adjusting production in cities and moving heroes to explore ruins, temples and libraries, and discover allies, relics and other items. The goal of this game was to rule the land of Illuria by defeating the other 7 opponents and capturing or razing at least two thirds of the cities in the land (initially 80, but cities could be razed upon capture). The winning player could show no mercy to his opponents, in which case the battle went on until one side won all the remaining cities.

In 1991, Warlords was the co-winner of Computer Gaming World's 1991 Wargame of the Year award.[1]

The game was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #172 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.[2]

Warlords II

Following the success of Warlords, SSG released Warlords II in 1993. This version included scenarios (five initially, although the later released mission pack and the Deluxe version (1995) increased the number to several dozen). Another new feature was 'fog of war' - optionally, enemy units or even the map could be concealed from players without units close enough to see them. The interface of the game was improved, as were the graphics (with additional unique city graphics for each different player). Moreover, the game featured multiple army, city and terrain sets (still in 16 colours, but upgraded to 256 colours with the Deluxe release), play by e-mail as well as hot seat, and a random map generator and map editor.

Thanks to the publication of the editor, Warlords II Deluxe was the apotheosis of the series in terms of user-created content. Many new maps, army and terrain sets, and scenarios were distributed on the Internet for the game.

Longtime Warlords player and enthusiast Bob Heeter imagined, and then organized, a multi-player tournament using Warlords II, through the newsgroup for strategic games. The tournament depended on a special program called "WarBot" that calculated what 'should' happen when two diverse armies fought under the Warlords rules. Tournament rankings and awards were given based on how well a player did in comparison to other players with the same side in the same scenario. Awards were also given for best roleplaying during the games. The tournament generated a great deal of interest, as well as a great deal of excellent roleplaying, which was archived. [3]

Warlords III: Reign of Heroes

After a four year hiatus, SSG developed Warlords III. By this time, the real-time strategy game genre was in full-swing. There was less of a market for turn-based games. Warlords III added a campaign system, along with new spells, new units, new hero abilities and new hero classes to the game.

Warlords III: Darklords Rising

Shortly after releasing W3:RoH, SSG followed with a stand-alone expansion pack. However, its release in 1998 was truly overshadowed by the oncoming rush of FPS and the MMORPG predecessors. The TBS genre in general would take a hit during this period. Warlords III like Warlords II had a campaign editor and had realistic terrain.[4] The plot of the main campaign continued where the previous game had left off.[4]

Issues on XP/Vista

Changes to the Microsoft operating system introduced with Windows XP technology did not allow DLR to run. UBI could not locate this problem even up to 2002 and no support was offered on this issue. Fans however have targeted the problem. The cursor controlling software jams the programs operation. To fix this issue, right-click the desktop or start menu shortcut, go to properties dialogue box from the menu that appears, and change the target to "c:\(your Darklords folder)\darklord.exe" /WINCURSOR. This will replace the problematic color cursors with functional, black and white ones. Some players use the -WINCURSOR option instead. Starting Scenarios or Campaigns with the /WINCURSOR or -WINCURSOR option will sometimes still cause a crash. Some users have reported success with running the game without the command options, saving and then restarting the game with the /WINCURSOR or -WINCURSOR option. It only works on the patched game (version 1.02) For Windows Vista the problems and solutions are the same, if it doesn't run then use compatibility mode for Windows XP SP2.

Warlords: Battlecry

Warlords Battlecry (WBC) marked an important diversion into real-time strategy. Although it failed to appeal to much of the franchise's existing fan base, it opened up an entirely new market. As the first truly hero-based RTS, it played a seminal role in the creation of the role-playing strategy genre that would eventually be dominated by Warcraft 3, and indirectly influenced major MMOs such as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. WBC and its sequels, WBC II and III, received critical acclaim but were met with limited commercial success.

Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria

In November 2003, Ubisoft released Warlords IV. Similar to Warlords III (in theme, not in gameplay), but with improved graphics and a more intricate magic system, it received a lackluster reception. Game Rankings, for example, shows an aggregate review score for the game of 70%, about ten percentage points lower than both Warlords III games ([1]).

One of the reasons this version was not as popular was due to the poor quality AI. The game was easily beaten on any difficulty when playing against computer players. The 1.04 patch (not available from Ubisoft, but from http://www.warlorders.com) fixed many of the AI issues, rebalanced the races, and fixed issues in the original version. This patch was released at the beginning of 2006 long after the original game's release, which may affect its ability to revitalise interest in the game.

According to Steve Fawkner, this game was built from scratch in 6 months by Infinite Interactive after being handed it by SSG in an incompleteable form ([2]), and is why the game is not up to previous standards.


  1. ^ Staff (November 1991). "Computer Gaming World's 1991 Games of the Year Awards". Computer Gaming World (Golden Empire Publications, Inc) (88): 38–40, 58.  
  2. ^ Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (August 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (172): 55-64.  
  3. ^ The Warlords II World Tournament (1997)
  4. ^ a b Shamma, Tahsin (1999-09-18). "Warlords III: Darklords Rising Review". Games Spot. http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/warlords3darklordsrising/review.html. Retrieved 2009-05-05.  

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